Sleeping FAQ: 9-12 months – Early Morning Waking

How can I get my 10-month-old to sleep later than 5am?

My son has been a very contented baby. From 6 weeks he has slept through the night from 7pm until 6.30. For the last couple of months he has started waking about 5am and is fully awake. I have been leaving him until 6.15am, at which time it becomes unbearable. He is on 3 balanced meals a day, 3 bottles of 7oz and a bedtime bottle of about 8/9 oz. I just can’t seem to get him to sleep longer. He is sleeping 1 hr in the morning at about 8.30am, as he has been awake since 5am, and 2 hrs at 1.30pm. Please help as I am now so tired after getting used to sleep again. I work three mornings and need some help.

There may be several reasons why your son has started to wake at 5am. As he is waking so early and needs a long morning nap, he has pushed his midday nap later. Cut back his morning nap to 45 minutes, waking him at 9.15am and see if your son is ready for his lunchtime nap by 1pm. You may need to cut back his nap time by 5 minutes every few days until he is coping with a shorter sleep. Wake him after two hours at the lunchtime nap. If this begins to have the effect of him sleeping longer in the early morning, then gradually push his morning nap forward to 9am and be prepared to cut it back to 1/2 hr. Some babies are ready to drop their morning nap by a year old.

Another reason for early mornings can be a baby going down exhausted at 7pm and dropping into a deep sleep, rather than chatting to themselves for a while and settling down slowly. As your son is sleeping to 3.30pm, it would seem this is not happening to him unless he is very active by crawling and pulling himself up. To prevent this, he needs time to rest by day with some time spent in his pram in the afternoon. If on the other hand, he is still not crawling much, nor pulling himself up and cruising around the furniture, he will not be using up so much energy and waking up so early when he has had enough sleep.

It may take a few days for any effect to be noticed once you begin to adjust his daytime sleeping times. Getting the times right for his stage of development, giving him plenty of floor time and time outside if he is still not moving much, should all help him get through later in the morning.

Have you also checked he is not cold in the morning, the room is not letting in chinks of light and that the house heating or water systems are not coming on about 5am and disturbing him? These could also be possible reasons for his early morning waking.